Eric brings you the details of WWE Fastlane 2015 in this edition of Chairshot Classics!
Open: A video talking about destinations and the Road To WrestleMania, highlighting the rivalries between Bryan/Reigns, Cena/Rusev and HHH/Sting.
Match #1: Dolph Ziggler, Erick Rowan & Ryback vs. Big Show, Kane & “Mr. Money In The Bank” Seth Rollins w/J&J Security
A clip from last Thursday’s Smackdown, which led up to this 6 man tag. Ziggler & Rollins kick it off, with Rollins leading the charge until Dolph gets a roll-up for a quick 2, goes for a superkick and Rollins ducks out for a breather. Crowd chants “You Sold Out” at Rollins. Rollins with a quick edge, thwarted by a Ziggler dropkick and he tags Rowan who overpowers Rollins. Rowan ducks a kick and gets a pumphandle backbreaker, followed by an elbow for 2. Rollins is able to worm away to his corner and tag Kane. Rowan with a body slam, leg drop and 2nd rope back elbow, but is pushed in the wrong part of town and Big Show tags.
Show unloads in the corner, catches a boot from Rowan, but Show sends Rowan to the outside. Show out after him gets pushed into the ring post, J&J approach but get scared off by Rowan, who then goes for a heel kick, Show moves and Rowan’s leg hits the post. Show works over the injured leg and makes the tag to Kane, who follows suit before making a tag to Rollins. Rollins hits a 2nd rope blockbuster for a near fall and then brings back Big Show. Show continues to punish the leg, goes for a Chokeslam, but is countered into a DDT. Show tags Rollins, who cheap shots Ziggler in the corner, but turns around into a heel kick by Rowan using the bad leg.
Rowan is finally able to crawl over and tag Ryback, who goes to work on Rollins with heavy offense. Rollins rolls away from a splash and goes for the Curb Stomp, but gets caught into a powerbomb. Ryback sets-up for the Meat Hook, but Kane slides in and ends up taking it. Rollins misses a move off the distraction, Ryback goes for Shell Shocked, then J&J Security hit the apron giving Rollins the chance for a roll-up that gets 2, immediately followed by a head kick for another near fall. Rollins to the top for a flying knee, Ryback ducks it but takes a kick on the other side. Rollins goes for another 2nd rope blockbuster and gets caught in Shell Shocked.
Show hits the ring and splashes Ryback and quickly rolls back out. Ziggler & Kane gets tags, Ziggler dropkicks Show on the apron, Kane looks for a Chokeslam that gets reversed and Kane is pushed into Show, knocking him to the floor. Jumping DDT by Ziggler for a near fall. Dolph goes for a Fameasser and gets caught in a side slam, countered and Ziggler with a superkick. Rollins tries to get in the ring and takes a Fameasser, then Dolph mounts Kane in the corner. Show hits Ziggler with a WMD from the outside and Kane covers to grab the win.
Winners: Big Show, Kane & Seth Rollins (Kane/Interference)
- After The Bell: The Authority celebrates in the ring and Rollins delivers a Curb Stomp to Ziggler. Ryback & Rowan come in, but the numbers game is too much for them. Ryback takes a Chokeslam and Rowan eats a Curb Stomp. They set Ryback up for a Curb Stomp, but out comes the returning Randy Orton, who proceeds to clean house. Noble suffers an RKO and Mercury gets caught coming off the 2nd rope with another. Rollins takes a kick trying to get in the ring with the briefcase and Orton sets him up for the IEDDT, but Big Show grabs Rollins from behind and saves him. Orton hits Kane with an RKO as Rollins retreats through the crowd and leaves the arena.
- EA’s Take: You had to figure it was about time for Orton to return, as he was never originally scheduled to be off for that long. The match itself was decent with the pace really picking up when Ziggler & Rollins would get in the ring, as you would expect. Rowan is in a really unusual state right now. He’s just not clicking as a face with the fans, as he continues to get little to no reaction. Unless you watch Smackdown, then he’s as popular as “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Hopefully now we can see Ziggler, Ryback and Rowan go do something else, they need to get away from this Authority angle already.
Video: Reviewing the dissolution of the tag team and “cosmic” brothers, Gold & Stardust.
Backstage: In the locker room is Goldust. In walks his father, “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes. He talks about Dustin doing what he has to do, but not hurting his brother in the process. Goldust says tonight he’s not facing Cody and he has to beat Stardust so bad that he will never want to wear paint again. “Tonight, I’m not leaving that ring until I bring my brother Cody home.”
Match #2: Stardust vs. Goldust
They lock-up and Goldust back Stardust into the corner, tries to clean break and Stardust with a couple shoves. Lock-up again and Stardust backs Goldust up, pushes him again and then receives a slap in return that makes Stardust rethink his approach. Crowd chants “Cody” to Stardust’s extreme disdain. We get a nice back and forth, with neither man getting an edge until Stardust is arm dragged into a corner. More loud “Cody” chants. They go back at it with more back and forth, both men posturing until Goldust gets Stardust set-up for the Director’s Cut, but Stardust slips to the outside. Dusty Rhodes is shown watching on a monitor backstage.
Stardust tries for a running bulldog that gets countered into a backbreaker, Goldust follows up with a clothesline that dumps Stardust back outside. The “Cody” chants seem to be getting to Stardust. Both men are able to hit duck-under strikes, Goldust sets-up Stardust for Shattered Dreams, but he slips out onto the apron. Stardust goes for a sunset flip, but Goldust moves and heads to the 2nd rope and Stardust gets the boot up in the mid-section. Stardust goes to work on the boot, spilling Goldust to the outside and battering him into the ring apron before rolling him back inside and punishing Goldust’s torso. Stardust with a front suplex and an arrogant cover that gets 2.
Stardust just continues going to work on the rib area. Goldust misses a springboard back elbow, Stardust sets-up for Cross Rhodes, but Goldust counters into a roll-up and gets a very shaky 3 count.
Winner: Goldust (Roll-Up)
- After The Bell: Stardust looks stunned about the end of the match. Goldust implores Stardust to shake his hand, Stardust grabs it quickly and rolls out of the ring, still looking in shock from the outcome.
- EA’s Take: Really an odd ending because of the count. Was it supposed to go that way? It almost seemed like it was meant to be part of the story with the way Stardust was reacting. I’d expect this to continue on into a match at WrestleMania for Goldust’s farewell.
Video: Seth Rollins from Monday Night Raw last week, referencing that he could host The Daily Show better than Jon Stewart. Jon Stewart has a few choice words for Rollins and then Rollins has a retort, and invites Stewart to show up at Fastlane.
Backstage: Dusty Rhodes and Goldust are talking about the previous match when Stardust walks up and says it looks like a family reunion, but they forgot to invite him. Stardust asks Goldust if he thinks they’re done and ambushes him, beating him down. Dusty implores Stardust to stop, calling him ‘Cody’. Stardust tells Dusty that he killed Cody, by sending him “this bag of bones” and that he is no longer living in Dusty’s shadow.
Match #3 For The WWE Tag Team Championships: WWE Tag Team Champions The Usos (Jimmy & Jey) w/Naomi vs. Tyson Kidd & Cesaro w/Natalya
Video of the dinner between Kidd/Natalya and Jimmy/Naomi from Smackdown 3 weeks ago. Kidd & Jey begin with Jey getting the upper-hand after a flying forearm and a slam, then a tag to Jimmy. Double team move now, a combo backbreaker/top rope forearm gets a 2 count. Jimmy with heavy chops and he hits a corkscrew senton from the top for a near fall. Kidd backs Jimmy in for a tag to Cesaro, shoots Jimmy in and runs him into Cesarom Jimmy counters but Cesaro chops the leg. Jimmy tries to fight out of the wrong corner, Kidd gets a tag and langs Jimmy’s leg across the ropes.
Kidd works the leg and makes a tag to Cesaro, for more of that same prescription. Cesaro with a one-legged big swing into a single leg crab, Kidd tags and hits a slingshot leg drop for a count of 2. Kidd continues to work the leg, wrapping it on the ring apron, but Jimmy gets himself a small window of opportunity. Cesaro rolls kid back inside and gets the tag as Jimmy reaches Jey, who hits a flurry of moves exclamated by a Samoan drop. He lines up for the Umaga Hip Attack, but Kidd is on the apron with a distraction that allows Cesaro to get a roll-up for 2. Jey with an enzuigiri and this time connects on the Umaga Hip Attack, but Cesaro is out at 2. Jey ascends the turnbuckle, but Cesaro hits the ropes which crotches Jey.
Kidd makes a tag, Cesaro hits the Swiss Superplex and Kidd follows with a springboard elbow drop that nearly wins them the titles. Kidd wants the Sharpshooter, counter by Jey, Kidd hits the apron and gets a roll-up on Jey, but Jimmy made a blind tag. Uso’s hit Alley Us and Jimmy covers, but Cesaro breaks it at 2 and pulls Kidd to the outside. Jimmy eats a kick from Kidd and Jey with an outside dive onto Cesaro. Kidd takes out Jey with a kick and here comes Jimmy who misses a baseball slide, then counters a kick from Kidd to a Samoan drop into the barricade. Jimmy rolls in Kidd and heads to the top, Cesaro’s distraction on the apron is thwarted and Jimmy goes for the Samoan Splash.
Kidd gets the knees up and rolls Jimmy into a cover for a near fall, then locks Jimmy in the Sharpshooter. Jey breaks it up with a kick to the back of the head, Cesaro in now and they brawl to the outside as Jimmy crawls to a cover that’s only good for 2. Cesaro rolls Jey into the ring which distracts the ref, then swallows a kick from Jimmy. Kidd capitalizes on the distraction and hits the swinging fisherman neckbreaker to capture the gold.
Winners and New WWE Tag Team Champions: Tyson Kidd & Cesaro (Kidd/Swinging Fisherman Neckbreaker)
- EA’s Take: Lillian Garcia – “Here are your winners and still….the new WWE Tag Team Champions…”. Why in the BLUE HELL did they let Justin Roberts walk again? Anyway, this was yet another example of why The Uso’s are the best tag team in the business. Not to discredit Kidd & Cesaro because they are great too and I like the different paths they could take with them going forward in terms of challengers. There’s a bunch of babyface teams right now with the breakup of Gold & Stardust and the eventual split of The Miz & Damien Mizdow. Add to that the recent call-up of Kalisto to add The Lucha Dragons into the mix.
Video: Triple H talking about his allegiance to WWE, 2 weeks ago on Raw and what has led up to Triple H calling him out for tonight.
In The Ring: It’s time for that confrontation and here comes Triple H, who is wearing street clothes and not his usual suit. Triple H talks about last week on Raw, when he was confronted by Ric Flair about Sting and how he regrets losing his cool and apologized to Flair, but doesn’t apologize for what he said about Sting. He says he is not standing in the ring as the COO, but as the heartbeat of WWE, The Game, The King of Kings and “Sting, I am waiting for you!”. He makes Triple H think about it for a moment and finally “The Vigilante” Sting makes his way to the ring. HHH says that they are past pleasantries and cuts right to the chase, he knows why Sting is here and isn’t mad about it, but feels sorry for him.
HHH says Sting backed the wrong horse by being undyingly loyal to WCW, but he respects that Sting “went down with the ship”. HHH says that guys like himself made that ship go down and he knows Sting came for him because without HHH & Stephanie the “WWE dies.”, but Sting failed and that’s what Sting does. HHH offers to let Sting have his legacy back and wants to do what’s best for business by putting all this behind them and doing business with Sting. All Sting has to do is walk away and HHH promises to make Sting bigger than ever by putting out DVD’s, action figures, loads of merchandise and possibly someday get him a Hall of Fame induction. Sting still says nothing and HHH takes his coat off and says the other option is the hard way, where he will beat the legacy out of Sting and he’ll be carried out and his legacy erased.
HHH says the choice is Sting’s, but he still doesn’t respond. HHH says he can tell by the look in Sting’s eye, he’s already made up his mind and tries to sucker punch Sting. Sting sees it coming and attacks The Game, but is hit by the microphone and HHH takes over. HHH beats down Sting, yelling at him “I gave you a chance!”, before rolling to the outside and grabbing his trusty sledgehammer. Sting pulls a baseball bat out of his jacket and catches HHH under the chin with it, pushing him into the corner until HHH drops the sledgehammer outside. He backs off and points to the WrestleMania sign with the bat, HHH tries to sneak attack, but gets pushed back into the corner and Sting points to the sign again. This time HHH agrees, Sting pushes HHH back again, points to the sign once more and begins to make his exit. HHH comes up from behind, but takes a ball-bat to the gut and receives a Scorpion Death Drop before Sting leaves.
- EA’s Take: Seems like they are paying homage to the Sting/nWo storyline here a bit, with The Authority playing the nWo role. Loved this segment, Sting didn’t have to speak to get his point across. I’m not sure the WCW vs. WWE part of the story is really something that needs to be played up as much as they have been, but they ultimately need to talk about Sting’s history for the younger crowd to really understand the mark he’s made in the industry.
Backstage: We see Daniel Bryan preparing for his match with Roman Reigns later tonight.
Video: Recap of the Kickoff Show, where The Miz’s guest on Miz TV was Paul Heyman. Heyman says it doesn’t matter who wins tonight, Bryan or Reigns because they will lose to Brock Lesnar and we can “believe that”.
Match #4 For The WWE Divas Championship: Paige vs. WWE Divas Champion Nikki Bella w/Brie Bella
Video of 3 weeks ago on Raw when The Bella’s sprayed Paige with tanner, then last week when they stole her ring gear and Paige had to wrestle in Rosebud attire. According to Lillian Garcia, Nikki is the Women’s Champion. Brawl to start and Nikki rolls out of the ring, Paige after her with Brie standing in the way, Paige catches Nikki in the ring, then goes for the knees on the apron that is countered and Paige spills to the floor. Nikki sends Paige into the apron and barricade, then back in the ring for a 1 count. Nikki grounds Paige and hits an Alabama Slam for a count of 2. Nikki continues to control until Paige gets in a kick, goes for a roll-up into the bottom turnbuckle, Nikki botches it. Paige with a series of clotheslines and a dropkick for 2.
Nikki ducks a kick into a roll-up that gets 2. Paige connects with the kick this time for another near fall. Paige sets-up for RamPaige, Nikki counters to a facebuster, but Paige retorts with a side kick and crawls into a count of 2. Nikki is caught climbing up top, she counters Paige into a powerbomb for 2. Paige is able to set for the PTO, but Nikki gets the ropes before Paige fully locks it in. Nikki grabs Paige’s tights and hauls her face-first into the turnbuckle, then rolls her up and grabs the tights again for the win.
Winner and STILL WWE Divas Champion: Nikki Bella (Roll-Up)
- EA’s Take: If this is headed in the direction that I think it is, which is the return of AJ Lee to help Paige…then shouldn’t Brie have gotten involved to help Nikki win? Maybe AJ is not the plan after all.
Match #5 For The WWE Intercontinental Championship: Dean Ambrose vs. WWE Intercontinental Champion Bad News Barrett
Clip of last Monday’s Raw, when Ambrose zip-tied Barrett to the ring post and forced him to sign the contract for an IC Title match. Both men connect with strikes, trying to prove who’s tougher, Ambrose with the advantage hits a crossbody and some rights, Barrett avoids a clothesline and ducks outside to regroup. Barrett back in, still can’t solve the puzzle of Ambrose, absorbs punishment until he catches Ambrose on the top with a big boot. Barrett sends Ambrose face-first into the steel steps before rolling him in and now he punishes Ambrose in the corner and grounds him. Ambrose gets a couple strikes in, but runs into Barrett’s boot and to the outside.
Barrett throws Ambrose in the ring, but he counters with a variation of the pendulum clothesline on the outside. Inside they go and Ambrose hits a tornado DDT and they double down. Ambrose is on fire now with a series of strikes and a running bulldog, he goes to the top, hops Barrett and rolls through. Barrett looks for Winds Of Change, Ambrose reverses into a roll-up for 2. Ambrose delivers a dropkick and a top rope diving elbow for a near fall. Ambrose goes for Dirty Deeds, countered into Wasteland, Ambrose gets out and takes a kick, springs off for a pendulum clothesline again countered and Barrett hits Wasteland for 2.
Barrett sets his sights on a Bullhammer, Ambrose into a roll-up for 2 and then hits with the pendulum clothesline and Barrett rolls outside. Barrett grabs his title and tries to leave, but Ambrose with a suicide dive. Barrett tries escaping through the crowd, but Ambrose gets him back in the ring. Barrett tries to crawl out again, Ambrose catches him and delivers a beat down in the ropes. Ambrose doesn’t break on the refs count and the ref calls for the bell.
Winner and STILL WWE Intercontinental Champion: Bad News Barrett (Disqualification)
- After The Bell: Ambrose hits Barrett with Dirty Deeds, goes to leave, then comes back in and grabs the IC Title.
- EA’s Take: This was one of the more predictable finishes of the night, as its been rumored that they’re penciled in to go 1-1 at WrestleMania. Decent match that did what it needed to do and advanced the story and rivalry between Ambrose & Barrett.
In The Ring: The Undertaker’s druids come out carrying torches to a spiritual chant. Taker’s music hits and out comes 2 more druids, pushing a casket down the aisle and up next to the ring. The casket opens to reveal…Bray Wyatt. Bray says there’s a wicked feeling in the air tonight. He talks about the first time he saw The Undertaker and how he feared him, but now he has become like everyone else, weak and broken with his soul lost. Bray says it’s time for Taker to go home. He knows he can hear him and he wants Taker to know he’s not afraid anymore. He is the new face of fear. “At WrestleMania, I will claim the soul of The Undertaker.”
- EA’s Take: Great way to keep the suspense of whether or not Undertaker will accept the challenge by Bray. I’d leave Taker off until WrestleMania or perhaps even the Raw before. Bray Wyatt is pure gold and doesn’t need Taker to appear to make this feud interesting. Wyatt is a perfect example of someone when they’re firing on all cylinders.
Panel: Renee Young and the rest of the Kickoff panel offer their thoughts on what just happened with Bray Wyatt. Booker T, Corey Graves & Byron Saxton recap the nights events.
Video: The buildup between John Cena and Rusev, leading up to their match tonight for the United States Championship.
Match #6 For The WWE United States Championship: John Cena vs. WWE United States Champion Rusev w/Lana
They feel each other out and circle around, Cena floors Rusev with a right and grabs a headlock. Rusev with a big kick for 2, then begins to dominate Cena with strikes in the corner. Cena fights back and shoots Rusev in, but falls victim to a spinning heel kick and a count of 2, then goes back to beating Cena down. Rusev grabs another near fall off a corner avalanche, Cena’s out on the apron and Rusev drives him off into the barricase, rolls him in for a cover and gets 2. Rusev gets distracted by the crowd and hits a dropkick for 2, only to have the favor returned by Rusev for 2 as well.
Cena gets a short burst of energy and takes Rusev down, raining fists, hits a shoulder tackle off the rope, goes for another and gets caught in a fallaway slam. Rusev really in control and gets 2 off multiple elbow drops. Cena uses Rusev to get to his feet and throws some gut shots, whip into the corner and runs into a back elbow, before being grounded by Rusev again. Cena powers out of the hold and takes a kick, Rusev goes for a suplex and Cena reverses, then hits a big clothesline for a count of 2. Cena tries the AA, Rusev counters into a DDT for a 2 count. Splashes in the corner by Rusev only get another 2 and Rusev shows signs of frustration. Cena shows signs of life and makes the comeback, hitting the 5 Knuckle Shuffle and going for an AA, Rusev pushes off and kicks Cena’s head off for another near fall.
Rusev tries to go for The Accolade, Cena counters to the STF, Rusev pushes off and hits a Gunnslinger that Rusev can’t believe doesn’t get 3. Rusev charges Cena and runs into a boot, Cena to the 2nd rope hits a tornado DDT, Rusev kicks out at 2. They slug it out in the middle of the ring, Cena looks AA again, Rusev goes for another Gunnslinger, but Cena turns it into a crossface. Rusev just powers out of the hold and hits an Alabama Slam, Cena kicks after a 2 count. Rusev attempts The Accolade once more, Cena catches his foot and gets him in the STF, but Rusev makes it to the ropes. Cena sets for an AA, Rusev is out with an elbow then a kick, looks for another superkick and this time Cena connects on the AA, but still can’t get a 3 count.
Cena climbs to the top and goes for the leg drop, Rusev catches him into a powerbomb and immediately locks in The Accolade. Cena breaks the grip a couple times and is finally able to get to his feet with Rusev on his back. Lana enters the ring and distracts the ref, Rusev with a low blow and then a kick to the face. He slaps The Accolade on again and Cena passes out.
Winner and STILL WWE United States Champion: Rusev (The Accolade)
- After The Bell: Trainers check on John Cena, who is still unconscious, face down in the ring. Rusev & Lana celebrate and the Russian flag drops behind them. Cena starts to come-to, but has trouble getting to his feet. He fights off help and heads to the back.
- EA’s Take: Really liking the mid-card title scene since some of the bigger names have been getting involved. Both the IC & US titles have been begging for a revival and these kinds of feuds will do that. Lana’s interference allows for a logical reason to have the rematch at Mania, which is where this is headed. Hopefully, more layers can be added to the story to keep it interesting until then.
Panel: Back to the Kickoff Panel to recap the night before heading to the main event.
Video: The rising tension between Daniel Bryan & Roman Reigns, as they vie for a spot in the main event at WrestleMania.
Match #7 – Winner Gets WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match At WrestleMania: Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan
They posture, lock up and break clean. Dueling Bryan & Reigns chants. They posture, lock-up and break again. Both men still trying to feel each other out, Bryan gains a headlock, Reigns powers out and reverses, catching Bryan with a shoulder, Bryan comes back with a roll-up for 2. Bryan catches Roman’s legs and attempts a surfboard, but Reigns powers out, leading Bryan to ponder his next move. Bryan kicks at Reigns, but is overpowered. Bryan flips over Reigns and hits the ropes, Reigns with a tilt-a-whirl slam, then clotheslines Reigns to the outside. Reigns follows him and viciously attacks Bryan using the barricade.
Bryan catches Reigns with a kick back in the ring, trying to cut Reigns down at the legs. Reigns breaks a submission with heavy rights, slingshots Bryan across the top, hits a Samoan drop and a flying clothesline. He charges Bryan, but Bryan with a drop toe hold into the turnbuckle. Bryan charges and is hammered with a big clothesline that turns Bryan inside-out for a count of 2. Reigns hits rolling suplexes and his signature apron dropkick, then sets-up the Superman Punch. Bryan counters with a kick and tries to take advantage, but the ref is checking on Reigns to see if he can continue. The match goes on and Bryan works the mid-section, the same area that Reigns had hernia surgery months before. Cormer dropkicks precede a top rope hurricanrana attempt by Bryan, countered by Reigns into a powerbomb for a near fall.
Reigns crushes Bryan with clotheslines in the corner, props him up top, but Bryan counters and seats Reigns on the turnbuckle. Bryan lands a top rope back suplex that only gets 2. Bryan gets the Yes Lock, but Reigns drags him to the ropes and rolls outside. Bryan hits on 2 suicide dives, goes for a third and is caught into an overhead belly to belly on the floor. Reigns has Bryan in his crosshairs for a Spear, but Bryan side swipes him into the steel steps. Both men struggle to reach the ring before the count of 10, but do. Bryan comes off the top and is caught with a Superman Punch for 2. Reigns tries a Spear and Bryan catches him in a roll-up for a near fall. Bryan with a big kick, and then connects with Knee Plus, but Reigns kicks at 2.
Reigns on his knees and Bryan goes back to the kicks, tries for a head kick, but Reigns catches the leg. Bryan slaps Reigns and snatches the arm, worming down to the mat into the Yes Lock. Reigns finally powers out and mounts Bryan, hammering down with big forearms. Bryan grabs a triangle choke, Reigns is able to lift him up and slam him to break. They double down and then get into a striking contest on the mat, Bryan to his feet and hits the big head kick before setting up for Knee Plus again. Bryan charges and Reigns catches him with a Spear to get the victory.
Winner: Roman Reigns (Spear)
- After The Bell: Both men are in the ring, spent. Bryan grabs Reigns and turns him arounf. Face to face, Bryan tells Reigns he better win at WrestleMania and then offers his hand. Roman takes it and then celebrates.
- EA’s Take: Excellent main event match that exceeded my expectations. Easily, the best match of Roman Reigns’ career. A lot of people will attribute that to working with Bryan, but Reigns really answered the call and brought it. Bryan was the perfect opponent to get Reigns ready for Lesnar. Bryan is a very physical wrestler and working that style with Reigns can only help him going into an even more physical opponent, in Brock Lesnar.
EA’s Finisher: Overall a much better show than I was anticipating. I half-went in thinking most of the finishes would be DQ’s or count-outs so they could build to rematches at WrestleMania. Have to give WWE credit for coming up with alternatives as they could easily have taken that route, especially since this is free trial month and a lot of people are probably not paying anything for this. Bryan/Reigns exceeded all expectations I had and I applaud WWE for sticking to the plan this time around and not giving in to all the post-Rumble noise. Bryan can help out in other ways without being involved in the title picture right now. Doesn’t mean he’s out of it forever. Storylines for WrestleMania became a lot clearer, with Randy Orton returning for revenge on Seth Rollins. Cena never tapped to Rusev, so that will continue. Sting & HHH are already official for the big show and as an admitted Sting mark, I for one couldn’t be more pumped (eventhough that has been the direction since Survivor Series). Also, good to see Tyson Kidd & Cesaro putting themselves on the map. I really like the tandem, especially now that Kidd actually has developed a character to go along with the tremendous in-ring skills we all knew he had. Maybe he can pull Cesaro’s out too. Great segment by Bray Wyatt, which has to ultimately lead to The Undertaker accepting the challenge. Why else would they put the thought in our heads if it wasn’t going to happen?
Top Three To Watch
1 – Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan
2 – Rusev vs. John Cena
3 – The Usos vs. Tyson Kidd & Cesaro
Chairshot Classics: PROGRESS Chapter 5 – ‘For Those About to Fight’
Chapter 5 of the Progress time machine checks in! Harry breaks down the action, the stories and much more!
Chapter 5 of the Progress time machine checks in! Harry breaks down the action, the stories and much more!
Greetings and salutations, everyone. Welcome back to the return of ’What I Watched’ now under the Chairshot Classics banner. The first four chapters of PROGRESS as well as Slammiversary and Bound for Glory 2018 from Impact Wrestling are available in my archive, which you can reach by clicking my name at the top of this article. To update everyone on future plans for What I Watched, obviously we’ll be continuing to cover PROGRESS. Eventually, I’ll get to a somewhat modern show. For other companies, once I hit 2005 on my watching of CHIKARA, I hope to start cover those here as well (the pre 2005 shows don’t have commentary and are (for me anyway) much harder to get through).
That brings us to why we’re here today. PROGRESS has just crowned a new champion at Chapter 4 in El Ligero, who tapped Nathan Cruz in the main event. Rather then do the immediate rematch, PROGRESS’ brass decided that instead they would do a bit of a ‘pick your poison’ situation as Ligero picks Cruz’s opponent and Cruz picks Ligero’s. There was another match revealed before the show as well, but I’ll save the mention of that for a bit later. In addition, the ‘Natural PROGRESS’ tournament continues, but we don’t know the participants for this Chapter. Beyond that, I don’t have a clue what to expect for this show, so it’s looks like we’ll find out together. With that said, it’s into the way back machine once again, as we head to January 27th, 2013 as “What I Watched” presents ‘For Those About to Fight’ or PROGRESS Chapter 5.
WRITER’S NOTE #1: My reviews will not be a play by play recap. I’ve done that style in the past and honestly, I don’t especially care for it. Instead, it’ll be more of a stream of consciousness review as I talk about the wrestlers, the matches, the storylines and whatever else happens to pop into my head while I watch.
WRITER’S NOTE #2: As much as I’d like to let everyone make their own decisions on the matches, giving away match results in the review will be a necessary evil. The reason being is that I will discuss what I think everything means going forward and maybe even doing a little fantasy booking of where I would go from where they presently are. I will still post the results as one big listing at the end of the articles as well as my ratings for the contests. The final show review will be after that as well as the ‘Final Reaction’ for the show. Going forward, I’ll have an archive to all of my previous reviews here on the Chairshot if you click on my user name.
MY RATING SCALE: Excellent, Very Good, Good, Above Average, Average, Below Average, Bad, Very Bad, Terrible and SKIP. Some matches will occasionally get a ‘N/A’ rating as well. That will be reserved for matches that I feel don’t warrant a rating.
PROGRESS Wrestling Chapter 5
‘For Those About to Fight…We Salute You’
From: ‘The Garage’ in Islington, London, England
Date: January 27th, 2013
Run Time: 1:55:53 (Demand PROGRESS)
WITH SPECIAL THANKS: Ian Hamilton for some of the research that I did while working on this review. (http://www.backbodydrop.com)
*OPENING VIDEO: The first match that the opening video reveals is the London Riots (James Davis and Rob Lynch) taking on the Leaders of the New School (Zach Sabre Jr. and Marty Scurll). That should be a lot of fun…RJ Singh has an open challenge as well…finally, we get highlights of the title match from Chapter 4 to show how El Ligero won the title and then it’s revealed that Nathan Cruz has picked Dave Mastiff to face El Ligero, while El Ligero has selected the debuting Rampage Brown as the opponent for Nathan Cruz.
*GENERAL NOTES: We return to the scene of the first three shows but with what appears to be a different setup. You can’t see any monitors in the frame, but the lighting is absolutely awful. Will not make a fun review if I can’t see stuff that happens…EDIT AT MATCH 3: the lighting gets a bit better as the show goes on, but still not what I’d call great.
*Once again, either Smallman doesn’t have an opening welcome promo or we skip it on the show. Shame, really. As I said time and time again, I really enjoy those in the future Chapters.
*Match #1: Stixx (1-2 as a singles competitor) vs. Danny Garnell (1-0 as a singles competitor)
The Who: Stixx is coming off a loss in the triple threat at Chapter 4, where he was pinned by Dave Mastiff. He had split a pair of matches against Lion Kid before that. Danny Garnell was not at Chapter 4. His most recent match was a loss in a tag match at Chapter 3 where he and Darrell Allen were defeated by the London Riots. In his only previous singles match, Garnell defeated Jimmy Havoc at Chapter 2.
The Why: I haven’t a damn clue here. Makes zero sense to me. If Jimmy *cough cough* Barnett mentions something on commentary, I’ll be sure to pass it along.
The Match: Before the match gets underway, Stixx lets everyone know that he, like Garnell, is originally from London but he moved away because London ‘is full of a bunch of pillocks’. Somewhere, William Regal smiles…opening bell goes here and gets a rousing ovation…Stixx impressed me in his last match against Lion Kid, but the first one was less then appealing. Garnell had a surprisingly good match with Havoc at Chapter 2…first topical reference from 2013 gets explained by Barnett and given the PROGRESS fan base, it’s no surprise that it makes light of a death. Highs and lows of these crowds…the ‘crowd counts the next number’ has run it’s course now but was still pretty fresh when this show happened…not the opening match you’d come to expect but technically proficient thus far…heavier shots finally start getting fired around the five minute mark. This is more what you’d expect from these two…first crowd expletive based chant at six and half minutes into match one. I would have had the under there…cravat with knee strikes and that’s more what I expect from this match then the opening five minutes where they basically stayed on the mat. Not saying they can’t do it, but not what you expect or want to see with two guys this size. You expect more ‘Hoss Fight’ here…Garnell busts out a nice looking Northern Lights for two…slingshot neck snap by Stixx. That was new and very nice looking. Also not what you’d expected from a guy who’s probably closer to two fifty then two hundred…I’ve never seen a crowd response so favorably towards exploder suplexes. It doesn’t happen but the crowd was ready to, pardon the pun, explode for it…Stixx gets two with a Black Hole Slam. Which I think was the move that did pin Lion Kid at Chapter 3…I don’t mean this is a terribly negative way, but this match has been pretty long for an opener…Garnell goes for a tornado DDT off the second buckle, but Stixx is able to counter. A series of reversals leads to Garnell attempting that same tornado DDT a second time and this time hitting it, which gives him the pinfall at 14:52…technically proficient, sure. But not especially enthralling. The match had it’s moments where I went ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’, but to me, it seems like it may have been a mistake having these two go this long in the opener. Closer to the first Lion Kid match then the second for Stixx and Garnell looks like just another guy here. Call it AVERAGE and mildly disappointing at that. (AVERAGE)
*Match #2: ‘Natural Progression’ Quarterfinal: Lord Jonathan Windsor (debut) vs. ‘Wild Boar’ Mike Hitchman (0-1 as a singles)
The Who: Lord Jonathan Windsor debuts here, looking like a very British Chuck Taylor. Not sure if that’s a compliment or not. Anyway, he appears to have a Blue Bloods gimmick a la 1995 WCW Bobby Eaton or William Regal. Mike Hitchman we saw before when he challenged Mark Andrews for the BWC Starlo Scholarship. He was unsuccessful in that match but he and Andrews had a barnburner. Happy to see Hitchman back for another opportunity.
The Why: Speaking of Mark Andrews, he advanced to the semifinals at Chapter 4. This is the second of the four quarterfinal matches. The winner of which will join Andrews in the semifinals and maybe face him. No release on the brackets to my knowledge.
The Match: Hitchman is now on WWE TV as part of NXT UK, but if you didn’t know it was the same guy, you’d never be able to tell. He looks so different here…opening bell goes and Windsor takes time to fold his robe…Barnett points out there’s nothing wrong with a Blue Blood gimmick as in twenty years time, you could be married to Jim Smallman’s daughter and own part of PROGRESS. Okay, that drew a legit chuckle from me…not sure if Windsor is big or Hitchman is just really small even by Indy standards…Hitchman gets tired of Windsor’s stalling and it leads to a DDT on the apron. Not sure that’s a spot I’d use in match two, but okay then…we go to the crowd brawling in the second match as well. It’s like an ECW show broke out…Windsor seems more concerned about posing then wrestling. I get that you are new, but this is a company that prides itself on ring work…fans seems to remember the Package Piledriver that Hitchman used against Andrews because they respond every time he goes for. So far, Windsor has had the counter, but one feels that won’t be the case forever…Hitchman once again goes the for the Package PD, but Windsor counters with a backdrop over. Hitchman hooks the legs on the landing and goes for the sunset flip, but Windsor sits out with a deep cradle and that’ll be a three count at 11:24…can definitely say I don’t agree with the who won here. Hitchman had a cracker against Andrews in his first appearance and if the winner of this match was to get Andrews in the semis, I’ve had loved to see them run it back. Windsor did absolutely nothing for me as the gimmick is just basically cheap heat and there’s not a lot of steak to go with the sizzle. Call this BELOW AVERAGE and it’s two matches, two misses thus far for PROGRESS Chapter 5. (BELOW AVERAGE)
*Match #3: Nathan Cruz (3-1 as a singles) vs. Rampage Brown (debut)
The Who: Nathan Cruz is the former champion, looking for a bit of redemption against the handpicked opponent of the new champion. One could argue that Cruz has been the guy who has meant the most to the company thus far, so seeing him in match three on the night is kind of odd. Rampage Brown makes his debut here. I don’t know much about him other then he had a brief run with NXT in the US before going back over to the UK and a run with WCPW in the UK as well.
The Why: Discussed it earlier but to reiterate, it’s part of the ‘pick your poison’ series with Cruz and Ligero picking each other’s opponents for the evening.
The Match: Before the match, Cruz announces that he has hired a bodyguard to deal with his Marty Scurll problem named Fug. We don’t see him yet, but Cruz claims he’s seven feet tall and two hundred and eighty pounds. That would be a very skinny bodyguard…the chyron for Cruz has him listed at 3-2. I’m guessing there are including the tag loss from Chapter 3, which I do not in singles competition. If you guys would like, I can keep a running archive of records at the bottom of the reviews going forward. Let me know what you think and I’ll add it in the future if so requested…second expletive based chant of the night encourages Rampage to ‘fuck him up’…opening bell goes here…Rampage is well put together. It’s easy to see why he got a developmental deal with the WWE…for a bigger guy, Rampage is pretty adept on the mat. Cruz tries a sunset flip off the second turnbuckle, but Rampage is able to roll through and escape into a Crossface. Thankfully, no Chris Benoit chants follow this time…think the sound may be a little off on this Chapter from a technical aspect. Spinal Tap kick sound happens shortly after the kick occurs…Rampage dumps Cruz to the floor with a back suplex and the around ringside brawling commences where Cruz surprisingly gets the advantage…for as much crap as the PROGRESS fans give him, Cruz is one of the smoother guys on the roster. He wrestles like a wrestler, not just a guy trying to string things together in the attempt to tell a story…Cruz has gotten a good portion of this match. A bit of a surprise given that it is Rampage’s debut but with Cruz being the former champion, it’s also understandable…sliding dropkick gets a series of two counts. Standard basement dropkick, not the sliding kick he pinned both Ligero and Colossus Kennedy with back at Chapter 1…ugh, headbutts. So not a fan of those…huge back body drop by Rampage. Looked really good despite the slight delay going to it…Rampage looked for a powerbomb but Cruz got out into a chestblower. Cruz looks to follow up and gets countered into a good looking series of powerbombs, first standard and then sit out for a very close two…Cruz hits Show-Stolen and much like Ligero did at Chapter 4, Rampage kicks out. It also gives our first ‘This is PROGRESS’ chant of the night…Rampage catches a Falcon Arrow and looks to have the cover but doesn’t want it. That drives me nuts! 2 Cold Scorpio used to do that shit all the time and it’s stupid to me. The point is to win the match…Rampage then catches the Crossface a third time but Cruz finds his way to the ropes and then to the apron. Rampage tries to suplex Cruz back in, but Cruz lands on his feet and a O’Connor Roll with a hook of both the ropes and the tights gives Cruz the win at 15:27…that was more like it, PROGRESS. Very well contested match from the standard bearer of the company and a new guy who got a definite opportunity to shine. Cruz may pick up the win here, but the way he picks up the win is the story as it keeps Rampage looking good going forward for when he comes back. Rampage definitely impressed in what was I believe my first time seeing him and I look forward to seeing more, assuming he can curb the 2 Cold Scorpio aspect of not wanting the pinfall. Cruz bounces back nicely from the Staff loss and one assumes sets himself back up into title contention. GOOD match between these two here and finally something worth the time on the show. (GOOD)
*Post-match: We see Fug help Cruz to the back. He’s not nearly what Cruz claimed him to be. 6’8-6’9 maybe. The two hundred eighty pounds may be accurate though.
*Match #4: ‘PROGRESS Championship Staff’ – El Ligero © (3-1 as a singles competitor) vs. Dave Mastiff (1-0 as a singles competitor)
The Who: El Ligero has just won the Staff at Chapter 4 as we established above. In doing so, he also got revenge on the only man to have pinned him thus far, as it was Cruz who eliminated Ligero from the four way at Chapter 1. Dave Mastiff has had two matches and two victories thus far in PROGRESS. A tag match at Chapter 3, where teaming with the now departed Greg Burridge, he pinned the then champion Nathan Cruz. Mastiff won a three way at Chapter 4, pinning Stixx after Cruz got involved in taking Marty Scurll out of the match
The Why: Two parts here. One, obviously, is that it’s for the PROGRESS Championship (Nazi) Staff. Second, it’s the second bout in the ‘pick your poison’ series for Cruz and Ligero, as Mastiff is Cruz’s handpicked challenge for the title.
The Match: It occurs to me that this is the fourth match and we’ve yet to see an inset promo on this show. They just vanished into a void of non-existence…hot start as once Ligero is introduced, he shotgun dropkicks Mastiff to the floor and follows out with a tope con hilo…Ligero goes for the guillotine early but Mastiff quickly escapes…once again, the PROGRESS fans encourage a good “Fing” up, this time in support of Mastiff…Mastiff counters a frankensteiner attempt into a powerbomb try but Ligero escapes into a second attempt at the guillotine. It’s about as successful as the first attempt…Barnett says that he described Ligero to an American friend as a mix of the ‘best of El Generico and the best of LowKi’. Not sure I agree that he’s at Generico’s level, but the point is understandable…wrecking ball dropkick by Ligero and he buries Mastiff under a pile a chairs, going for the count-out. Mastiff up at six and Ligero tries another dropkick, only to get flung wheelbarrow style into the ring post…stalling delayed vertical suplex by Mastiff goes for a full minute goes Mastiff brings down Ligero. Impressive in length but to be fair, El Ligero weighs like a third of what Mastiff does…Mastiff goes for a second but Ligero escapes into a rollup for two. Looked good…sound is definitely slightly off on this stream…sleeper (I think?) variation…out to the floor again, but only long enough for Mastiff to pitch Ligero back in. Smart. Can’t win the Staff by count-out. Wish more people would do that instead of letting opponents take the count…Mastiff goes for a Buckle Bomb but once again gets caught in the guillotine. Mastiff counters by putting Ligero on the top rope. The guillotine isn’t working, but bless his heart, he keeps trying…absolutely hate that corner hanging double stomp. Almost always looks so contrived no matter who is doing it…shotgun dropkick by Ligero is no sold and Mastiff hits one of his own, followed by a dead lift German to put Ligero on the floor again…Ligero finally gets the guillotine in with both guys on the floor and rolls back into the ring to try to take a count-out win. Mastiff breaks the count just before the ten…Ligero goes for the C4L but Mastiff stops him and gets a running Liger Bomb for a close two count and the second ‘This is PROGRESS’ chant…Into The Void (corner cannonball) misses and Ligero goes up, leaping into a sixth attempt at the guillotine. This time, Mastiff flings Ligero overhead with a belly2belly variation. Mastiff tries to follow up with another Liger Bomb, but Ligero counters back into the guillotine. Mastiff tries to power out once but collapses and it’s a KO victory for the champion at 18:18…solid big match vs. little man contest but to be frank, nothing special here. A couple cool moves and a very impressive bit of dogged determination from El Ligero but if I’m being honest, I never bought that Mastiff was going to take the title from Ligero. Ligero’s deal with Cruz isn’t over and Mastiff hasn’t been around long enough to really establish much of a name for himself in PROGRESS. The fans kinda responded the same way I did as they got involved in the match here and there, but never for any significant portion of time. The match itself was GOOD due to the efforts of both men, but not must see by any stretch of the imagination. (GOOD)
*Match #5: RJ Singh (2-0-1) vs. ‘Dazzling’ Darrell Allen (0-1-1)
The Who: RJ Singh comes in off consecutive victories, beating Paul Robinson and Rob Cage at Chapters 3 and 4, respectively. The draw is a no decision in a three way where El Ligero pinned Greg Burridge to become number one contender at Chapter 2. Darrell Allen is looking for his first victory here in PROGRESS as not only does he have the 0-1-1 singles record (tapped by Noam Dar (Chp2), no decision in three way where Xander Cooper pinned Zack Gibson (Chp1)), he was on the losing side of a tag match at Chapter 3 as well and completely left off Chapter 4.
The Why: This one I have an answer for as well. It is an RJ Singh ‘Bollywood’ Open Challenge here. Adding to the intrigue of this open challenge is info that Jim Smallman gives us before the match during introductions that these guys are usually a tag team known as the Bhangra Knights.
The Match: Pre-match, Singh reads Allen the riot act, stating that they promised to stay out of each other’s way in PROGRESS and that while Singh has thrived, Allen has been something of a loser. Allen says in his (Allen’s) hometown of London, why don’t we find out if Singh really is King (which has been RJ’s catchphrase during this PROGRESS run)…bell goes and we’re underway…Singh has the edge early but it is pretty evenly matched…this is going to come down to a classic story of aerial vs. technical. Allen is more of a flyer whereas RJ likes to stay on the match…Director and Boudica again get on the apron, but Singh tells them to get down once again. I thought that pairing dissolved at Chapter 4…Boudica and Director do find themselves ejected and in a moment that’ll make Vince smile, the ‘Na Na Hey Hey’ song accompanies them doing so…springboard kick to the midsection. Called an enzugiri. It wasn’t, but I don’t know what the technical name is…Singh catches Allen with a version of the Tyebreaker that gets two (fireman’s carry into spinning facebuster over the knee). It looked good…this may not be the most PC thing to say but every time Allen takes a big bump, it looks like he’s trying to fellate himself…crowd very wittily chants ‘This is Bhangra’ instead of ‘This is PROGRESS’. Dug that…Singh loads up for a superkick, preceding it with a ‘I’m sorry. I love you’. The crowd and Barnett pop. The move is countered but the thought that counts…Allen up top and distracted by Boudica and Director on stage. Singh pulls Allen up the top and hits Widow’s Peak. Singh looks to apply the ‘Ethnic Submission’ (Camel Clutch, obviously) but Allen is able to pull Singh forward and trap him in a cradle for the three count at 9:56…alright, so I had some doubts. Singh has been pretty basic up to this point. Allen had a good performance in the triple threat at Chapter 1 but both he and Garnell were kind of just there for the match with the London Riots. With all that being said, it actually turned into a pretty nice little match here. There was a good amount of action thrown in with the story that they told and most importantly to me, I like that the story actually played into the finish with Allen knowing the ‘Ethnic Submission’ and having a counter planned. Call this one a GOOD showing for both guys and the best match on the card thus far, in my opinion. (GOOD)
*Post-match: Singh offers the handshake and instead, he and Allen hug it out. Shah Boudica takes not kindly to this and attacks Allen from behind. Singh pulls Boudica off of Allen twice, before Boudica slaps Singh in the face. Allen then superkicks Boudica in the back of the head. Allen and Singh then team up as a Samoan Drop-Blockbuster combination (called the Bhangra Buster, but for point of reference look for Cryme Tyme’s G-9) and looks like the Bhangra Knights will be a thing going forward in the tag division….as the Bhangra Knights are making their way to the back, the London Riots make their entrance, so me thinks that may play a factor in a future Chapter.
*Match #6: London Riots (James Davis/Rob Lynch) (3-0 as a team) vs. Leaders of the New School (Marty Scurll/Zach Sabre Jr.) (Debut as a team)
The Who: London Riots are clearly the class of the PROGRESS tag division thus far. Wins over the Bastard Squad (probably done now that Allen is back with Singh), the Hunter Brothers and the Velocity Vipers (shame about Esmail’s leg) have led them to here, a main event level match. Leaders of the New School make their debut as a team here for PROGRESS, but it will not be my first time seeing them as a team. I remember getting into the European wrestling scene by watching wXw out of Germany and Scurll and Sabre Jr. were the wXw Tag Team champions for a while there. Scurll has been one of the biggest stars of PROGRESS thus far and in my opinion, Scurll vs. Sabre Jr. from Chapter 1 remains the best match in PROGRESS history to this point.
The Why: London Riots wanted competition, Jim Smallman decided to give them competition in the form of what many at the time considered to be the best tag team in Europe. Pretty straight forward here.
The Match: As per the usual, if I screw up Davis and Lynch, I apologize. They have stuck with the singlet and bikers gear, so once again, I should be okay…aw, Chris Roberts just got his first kiss. It was from Marty Scurll, but it still counts!…Davis is the one in the singlet. Now I know. Thanks Smallman, er, Barnett…Barnett lets us know that the Chapter 1 match between the Leaders was voted best match in Britain in 2012. That’s fair…Scurll spits his gum at Lynch. Well, with no Noam Dar on this show, someone had to be unhygienic…has that sit out butt drop worked for another then Rikishi in the last decade?…a little Poetry in Motion by the Leaders and then Scurll uses Sabre Jr. as a weapon to take out both Riots…off to an insane pace. Shit ton of action and we’re not even four minutes in yet…Scurll with a running bitch slap to Davis. Davis responds with a STIFF running body block. Don’t think he appreciated the slap…everything Sabre Jr. does is so fluid. With as many huge Indy names that ended up in NXT, I am stunned that Zach never got a shot there. I know he had a set of Japanese commitments, between NOAH and NJPW, but what could have been…believe the word to describe Sabre would be lanky. But he makes the most of it…apparently, I owe Rob Lynch and James Davis an apology. My Chapter 3 review got posted as I’m typing this and I apparently called them the Riot Squad during the course of that. They were facing the Bastard Squad and I just joined the names for a common WWE name. My bad…Lynch just knocks Sabre weak kneed with a forearm. Good lord…we’ve settled into a bit of tag formula here but as I’ve said before, it’s a formula because it works. Riots are hated and Leaders are loved. What better way to do this then to keep a member of the Leaders isolated and get the crowd to rally behind him…despite a pretty good experience gap, Riots are looking good in this match. Part of it is a master class from Sabre and Scurll as babyfaces, but Riots are more then holding their weight…I really hope Sabre Jr. is around more in PROGRESS in 2013. That war he had with Scurll at Chapter 1 was his only match for 2012. It would definitely make these reviews more fun to get to see more of the wizardry that Sabre possesses…tag finally made and Scurll comes in a house of fire…Scurll gets the Cesaro apron superplex that gets broken up by a bloody nosed Rob Lynch. A kick from Sabre caught him flush before the hot tag…gamengiri by Sabre Jr. into a DVD by Scurll gets two with another save by Lynch. It looked good…pop-up spear by the Riots and it looked really good. Last second save by Scurll…Riots look for the ‘District Line’ powerbomb but Sabre is able to get out and he chuffing loves putting people in cross-armbreakers. It’s broken up by getting Scurll powerbomb’d onto him…everyone down after a series of strikes and the crowd hits our fourth ‘This is PROGRESS’ chant…saves are coming hot and heavy here. I like it to a point, but let’s not get to the line of overkill…Sabre nails Scurll with a kick by mistake and the Riots take advantage with a really good looking Doomsday Device which Sabre kicks out of at two. That would have made for a good finish…shortly thereafter, the ‘District Line’ powerbomb does land (looking a bit rough but the point was there) and James Davis pins Zach Sabre Jr. at 20:07…VERY GOOD but not to the level are the previous Scurll main event matches in PROGRESS. The biggest issue I have here in that while the Riots had a good heat segment on Sabre, it didn’t break down nearly as much as I expected it to in the finish. Speaking of the finish, it looked slightly blown as I think Lynch may have tried a neckbreaker for the ‘District Line’ or he just didn’t get far enough out of the way. The big thing here is that it definitely establishes the Riots as the team to beat in PROGRESS as they take down the Leaders relatively cleanly. (VERY GOOD)
Post-match: London Riots don’t attack after the match as has been their tradition, instead heading to the back. Probably to fix Rob Lynch’s nose. Jim Smallman gets on the mic and lets us know that the first match they’ll announce for Chapter 6 will be a rematch of Chapter 4 as the Riots will once again face the Hunter Brothers, this time in a weapons match. Seems like an odd time to announce this with Sabre Jr. still down in the ring, but the show must go on, I suppose. Scurll goes to get a bit of mic time as well, but the show fades before he speaks and that’s a wrap for Chapter 5.
Match #1: Danny Garnell pins Stixx, tornado DDT off second buckle @ 14:52 (AVERAGE)
Match #2: Lord Jonathan Windsor pins Mike Hitchman, sit-down on sunset flip @ 11:24 (BELOW AVERAGE)
Match #3: Nathan Cruz pins Rampage Brown, O’Connor Roll with hook of tights and ropes @ 15:27 (GOOD)
Match #4: PROGRESS Wrestling Staff- El Ligero © defeats Dave Mastiff by KO, guillotine choke @ 18:18 (GOOD)
Match #5: Darrell Allen pins RJ Singh, leverage pin out of ‘Ethnic Submission’ attempt @ 9:57 (GOOD)
Match #6: London Riots (James Davis/Rob Lynch) defeat Leaders of the New School (Marty Scurll/Zach Sabre Jr.), Davis pins Sabre Jr. after the ‘District Line’ powerbomb @ 20:07 (VERY GOOD)
FINAL SHOW THOUGHTS
It picks up quite a bit at the end, so I can’t call it the worst of the five shows thus far. That being said, it’s definitely not mandatory viewing either. The issue that I find myself with is that I know what PROGRESS is capable of as it goes forward. When you go back and watch these formative shows, you can see moments of potential. But that’s all they are usually at this time frame. Just moments. Top to bottom, none of these shows have delivered a knock out show. Try to find the semi main and main event if you have a chance, but the rest is watch at your convenience. Except for the Windsor and Hitchman match. Do yourself a favor and skip that.
Where does this leave us? It leaves me a little disappointed, but that’s what happens when expectations are set so high. It leaves you hopefully wanting to come back as we take the next step in this journey with Chapter 6. In addition, it leaves me still hungry. I wonder if I could work out a ‘burgers per review’ deal around here.
THE FINAL REACTION
Best Match/Moment: Despite the fact that I gave the main event a higher rating, I going to give this honor to the RJ Singh and Darrell Allen match. The match itself is a good mix of comedy and ring work. The post match is where the money is as the fans go crazy for the Bhangra Knights reunion.
Worst match/moment: Feels like I’m beating a dead horse, but Mike Hitchman and Lord Jonathan Windsor can be classified as nothing less then a disappointment. The blueblood gimmick has potential, but in a company like this, you need to be able to back it up in the ring. Windsor simply did not.
MVP: Going to give this as co-MVPs again and I’m going to give it to James Davis and Rob Lynch for a star making performance in the main event as the London Riots prove they are the class of the PROGRESS tag team division.
FINAL SCORE: 6.0/10.0
Until next time: “This Is PROGRESS” and that’s “What I Watched”. Up next is Chapter 6: “We <3 Violence” And make sure you guys check out the Raw Reaction every Monday night at 11:30 PM (EST) to hear Tony Acero, Andrew Balaz and myself break down the important news and cover Monday Night Raw over on the Chairshot Radio Network.
Doctor’s Orders: Ranking The Greatest Matches and Rivalries in NXT Takeover History
Objectively subjectifying all-time greatness on NXT’s premiere stage, Takeover. See what matches are on the list!
The Doctor is in as Chad Matthews updates his list of greatest WWE NXT Takeover matches and rivalries with a look at two of the very best, from different NXT eras.
Attempting to contextualize greatness in pro wrestling is a fascinating exercise, a much more multi-faceted conversation than it is often given credit for. To some in the business, for instance, Rock vs. Cena is the greatest match of all-time because it set the pay-per-view buy mark, while others would say the greatest match is Austin vs. Bret because of the exemplary storytelling. Why should greatness be limited to a plethora “one or the other” positions (best vs. most popular or anything of the sort)? Such has been my stance during this entire decade (see The Greatest Matches and Rivalries of the WrestleMania Era), tackling the process of adding measures of objectivity to a topic deemed completely and utterly subjective and attempting to broaden the way that we have these discussions. I can also apply that to NXT.
Greatness has become regularly associated with NXT. I am personally enamored with what the yellow brand has accomplished over the past few years, with the Takeover franchise especially. The reputation that Takeover has built should astound any diehard WWE fan who, at times during the WrestleMania Era, may have felt like Vince and Co. unnecessarily (and oddly) put a critical ceiling on its in-ring product. Bold statement: Takeover has, based purely on what happens from bell-to-bell, produced nearly as many bonafide classic wrestling matches as WrestleMania in just five years of existence. Think about that for a moment, because it was with that idea in mind that I started asking, “What’s the greatest in NXT history?”
My second book (referenced above) was published last summer and in it I crafted a detailed formula to thoroughly assess the various aspects that shape how fans and pundits use the term “greatest.” Turning my attention to NXT, I took that formula and tweaked it to fit Takeover. On a 1-5 star scale, appropriately, I graded the best match in each of the top rivalries in NXT history, picked from a pool of consensus classics, on the psychology, storytelling, selling, execution, and climax of their in-ring performances, their historic ramifications on NXT lore, the setting (as defined by a pre-made scale for crowd size), the strength of their pre-match build-up, and the rating given by Dave Meltzer to account for popular opinion, as well as a few additional points (not on a scale of 1-5, mind you) for any intangible qualities (i.e. a special entrance, an innovative move or sequence never before seen, a rivalry-befitting gimmick, etc.). The sum total of the scoring yields the rivalry’s standing, which will be continuously updated as this long-term process advances.
Today’s entries grow the list from fourteen to sixteen matches, which have been selected at random throughout this project’s history dating back to last fall. Here are the rankings ahead of today’s additions (the links will take you to the objectively subjective breakdown of each match):
#1- Revival vs. #DIY (46.5)
#2- Bate vs. Dunne (43.5)
#3- Ricochet vs. Cole (43.0)
#4- Undisputed Era vs. Mustache Mountain (42.25)
#5- Dream vs. Ricochet (42.0)
#6- War Games 2018 (41.5)
#7- Nakamura vs. Zayn (41.0)
#8- Asuka vs. Moon (40.75)
#9- #DIY vs. AOP (39.75)
#10- Dream vs. Black (39.5)
#11- Balor vs. Joe (39.0)
#12- Owens vs. Balor (38.75)
#13- Almas vs. McIntyre (36.0)
#14- Four Horsewomen-Way (33.75)
Andrade “Cien” Almas vs. Johnny Gargano for the NXT Championship at Takeover: Philadelphia
Psychology: 5 / Historic: 4.5 / Setting: 5 / Storytelling: 5 / Selling: 5 / Climax: 5 / Execution: 5 / Popular Opinion: 5 / Build: 4.5 / Intangibles: +4
Total Score: 48.0
There have been very few matches in WWE history that have found me clapping while watching them in replay, and Cien vs. Johnny Wrestling from Philly is one of them. Hand to heart, I am unsure that there has ever been a better performance in WWE, which is partly what makes the added dynamic of including NXT lore when historically ranking matches throughout the WrestleMania Era so challenging and simultaneously so fascinating. The depth of storytelling and the instances when believably this match could have been over but somehow was not is virtually unmatched in mainstream North American wrestling over the past thirty plus years. Gargano and Almas judged everything picture-perfectly, selling their butts off, adding layers of psychology as they reached an utterly captivating climax, and drawing every ounce of intrigue out of the in-ring chemistry that they first prominently put on display against each other at Takever: Brooklyn III.
Gargano vs. Andrade is truly one of the greats as “epic” matches go, and the Philadelphia match certainly fits the profile of the genre (an “epic match”) that I have been quietly working on popularizing in the IWC, offered up to properly label a lengthy main-event style performance that builds to crescendo after crescendo and features finisher kick-outs as one of its primary hope spot wells to tap. I have been critical of the over-use of it, as many of its staples have trickled down to ten minute mid-card matches, and I do believe that epics, like Cena vs. Styles for example, are suffering from a distinct lack of rewatchability because of how ardently they cling to bout-ending signature offense, but Cien vs. Johnny is not to be lumped in with such over-done peers because it is smarter, more intricate, better executed, and expertly paced, its gaps in action replaced with the outstanding managerial act of Zelina Vega (and the eventual cameo by Candice Wrestling).
I believe it was a truly remarkable achievement. Maybe Banks vs. Bayley, Gargano vs. Ciampa, or Gargano vs. Adam Cole beats it in the scoring system, but even if one of them or another Takeover match in the pipeline down the road unseats it, I think it is going to be a long time before something removes it from the pedestal of what yours truly would call the finest match in Takeover history. Aesthetically, athletically, psychologically, I just struggle to see how anyone could really argue that another match was better. I was fortunate enough to see them wrestle one of their prequels in Brooklyn, and that was one of the four or five best mid-card type bouts in Takeover lore too, so when you combine that match with what happened in Philly – of the nine scoring categories here, their NXT Title match scored a 5 in seven of them – you have an all-time great.
You know, it is funny that Dave Meltzer awarded the Takeover: Philadelphia match the first “5-star” rating for a WWE match since Punk vs. Cena in Chicago, and if you watch any of New Japan Pro Wrestling and know of Meltzer’s fascination with it, you can appreciate why. Almas vs. Gargano was an NJPW match in an NXT ring with WWE production value. If in the coming years, a main-event of that style and caliber is featured on Summerslam or eventually works it way to the WrestleMania headlining position, I think we may have Gargano vs. Almas to thank for it.
Neville vs. Sami Zayn for the NXT Championship at Takeover: R-Evolution
Psychology: 4.5 / Historic: 4.5 / Setting: 3 / Storytelling: 5 / Selling: 5 / Climax: 5 / Execution: 4.5 / Popular Opinion: 4.75 / Build: 5 / Intangibles: +3
Total Score: 44.25
While in the beginning of this process, it seemed probable that Cien Almas vs. Johnny Wrestling had a shot at topping this match to advance ever closer to the #1 spot, what seemed assured from the out-set was that Zayn vs. Neville would rate among the premiere title matches in NXT lore because, in terms of storytelling, there may still have never been a championship bout that possesses the same sense of urgency or the same sense of occasion.
Here you had Neville, a bit shy of a year-long reigning as NXT Champion (who held the title during the promotion’s rise to WWE Network prominence) and possessing one of the most amazing offensive arsenals in pro wrestling’s entire history, coming up against Zayn, arguably the quintessential example of how legends are capable of being made in NXT. No matter what happens elsewhere within the Titan ranks, Zayn will be someone revered by any who watched what he did in NXT from 2014 to 2016.
One of the greatest things that NXT brings to the table is how wrestlers, as personalities, are characters first, their labels (or face-heel dichotomies) rather arbitrary by comparison. Neville strayed a bit more toward a black and white personic construct during the match, but he was clearly pushed toward the line that Zayn managed to straddle a bit better and showed glimpses of the viciousness and single-mindedness (toward winning) that made his run on 205 Live so engaging to purple brand followers in 2017; it was Zayn who was truly marvelous, though, displaying a depth of character so rarely seen from protagonists in WWE proper, and far more relatable for it, as evidenced by the incredibly raucous crowd support that he garnered in what was still ostensibly a babyface match. Zayn’s ability to connect on that deeper emotional level lifted this effort to pantheon status.
The end result – the total package from the storyline build-up to the hype video package to the atmosphere it generated to the bell-to-bell fight (and it felt like the fight that pro wrestling should be in the modern era main-event scene with the athletic potential of the combatants) – closed the first chapter in the history of NXT in the Network Era with a timeless classic destined for massive hindsight accolades in the near and distant future.
#1- Andrade vs. Gargano (48.0)
#2- Revival vs. #DIY (46.5)
#3- Neville vs. Zayn (44.25)
#4- Bate vs. Dunne (43.5)
#5- Ricochet vs. Cole (43.0)
#6- Undisputed Era vs. Mustache Mountain (42.25)
#7- Dream vs. Ricochet (42.0)
#8- War Games 2018 (41.5)
#9- Nakamura vs. Zayn (41.0)
#10- Asuka vs. Moon (40.75)
#11- #DIY vs. AOP (39.75)
#12- Dream vs. Black (39.5)
#13- Balor vs. Joe (39.0)
#14- Owens vs. Balor (38.75)
#15- Almas vs. McIntyre (36.0)
#16- Four Horsewomen-Way (33.75)
If you want to discuss NXT or other wrestling matters with Doc, follow and tweet @TheDocLOP !
Check out the latest episode of The Doc Says podcast, featuring a review of NXT Takeover 25!
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